This paper suggests that most 13 year olds and many 11 year olds have a clear and detailed grasp of their own social map, recognize the pecking order which is established amongst their peers and are aware of the different levels of risk-taking behaviour, including smoking, adopted by different peer groups in their school year. Thirty six 11 year olds and 40 13 year olds took part in the study. Their remarkably consistent views about which pupils adopt or reject smoking are closely related to their perceptions of their social map. Their accounts differentiate top girls, top boys, middle pupils, low-status pupils, trouble-makers and loners, associating smoking behaviour consistently with three of the five groups--the top girls, the low-status pupils and the trouble makers. Top boys, although sharing many of the characteristics of top girls, have an added protection factor--their keen interest in football and physical fitness. From their descriptions, it is apparent that different groups of pupils smoke for different reasons which are related to pecking order and group membership. The implications of these young people's views for health education programmes to prevent smoking and other risk-taking behaviours are far reaching.